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Pedro A. Jiménez, Jimy Dudhia, J. Fidel González-Rouco, Jorge Navarro, Juan P. Montávez, and Elena García-Bustamante

Abstract

This study summarizes the revision performed on the surface layer formulation of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. A first set of modifications are introduced to provide more suitable similarity functions to simulate the surface layer evolution under strong stable/unstable conditions. A second set of changes are incorporated to reduce or suppress the limits that are imposed on certain variables in order to avoid undesired effects (e.g., a lower limit in u *). The changes introduced lead to a more consistent surface layer formulation that covers the full range of atmospheric stabilities. The turbulent fluxes are more (less) efficient during the day (night) in the revised scheme and produce a sharper afternoon transition that shows the largest impacts in the planetary boundary layer meteorological variables. The most important impacts in the near-surface diagnostic variables are analyzed and compared with observations from a mesoscale network.

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Francisco J. Tapiador, Andrés Navarro, Eduardo García-Ortega, Andrés Merino, José Luis Sánchez, Cecilia Marcos, and Christian Kummerow

Abstract

After 5 years in orbit, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission has produced enough quality-controlled data to allow the first validation of their precipitation estimates over Spain. High-quality gauge data from the meteorological network of the Spanish Meteorological Agency (AEMET) are used here to validate Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) level 3 estimates of surface precipitation. While aggregated values compare notably well, some differences are found in specific locations. The research investigates the sources of these discrepancies, which are found to be primarily related to the underestimation of orographic precipitation in the IMERG satellite products, as well as to the number of available gauges in the GPCC gauges used for calibrating IMERG. It is shown that IMERG provides suboptimal performance in poorly instrumented areas but that the estimate improves greatly when at least one rain gauge is available for the calibration process. A main, generally applicable conclusion from this research is that the IMERG satellite-derived estimates of precipitation are more useful (r 2 > 0.80) for hydrology than interpolated fields of rain gauge measurements when at least one gauge is available for calibrating the satellite product. If no rain gauges were used, the results are still useful but with decreased mean performance (r 2 ≈ 0.65). Such figures, however, are greatly improved if no coastal areas are included in the comparison. Removing them is a minor issue in terms of hydrologic impacts, as most rivers in Spain have their sources far from the coast.

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Etor E. Lucio-Eceiza, J. Fidel González-Rouco, Elena García-Bustamante, Jorge Navarro, Cristina Rojas-Labanda, and Hugo Beltrami

Abstract

The variability of the surface zonal and meridional wind components over northeastern North America during June–October is analyzed through a statistical downscaling (SD) approach that relates the main wind and large-scale circulation modes. An observational surface wind dataset of 525 sites over 1953–2010 provides the local information. Twelve global reanalyses provide the large-scale information. The large-to-local variability of the wind field can be explained, to a large extent, in terms of four coupled modes of circulation explaining a similar amount of variance. The SD method is mostly sensitive to the number of retained modes and subregionally to the large-scale information variable, but not to the reanalysis source. The SD methodological uncertainty based on the use of multiple configurations is directly related to the variability of the wind, similar in relative terms for both components. With an adequate choice of parameters the SD estimates provide more realistic variances than the reanalysis wind, although their correlations with respect to observations are lower than the latter. Additionally, while these different SD estimations are very similar on the reanalysis used, the various reanalysis wind fields show noticeable differences, especially in their variances. The wind variability is reconstructed back to 1850, making use of century-long reanalyses and two additional SLP gridded datasets, which allows estimating the variability at decadal to multidecadal time scales. Recent negative (significant) trends in the zonal component do not stand out in the multidecadal context, but they are consistent with a global stilling process, and are partially attributable to changes in the large-scale dynamics.

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F. J. Tapiador, A. Navarro, R. Moreno, A. Jiménez-Alcázar, C. Marcos, A. Tokay, L. Durán, J. M. Bodoque, R. Martín, W. Petersen, and M. de Castro

Abstract

Laser disdrometers measure the particle size distribution (PSD) of hydrometeors through a small cross-sectional (tens of square centimeters) surface. Such a limited area induces a sampling effect in the estimates of the PSD, which translates to error in the reflectivity–rain-rate (ZR) relationship used for ground radar estimates of rainfall, estimates of kinetic energy of precipitation, and any other hydrometeorological application relying on particle size information. Here, the results of a dedicated experiment to estimate the extent of the effect of limited area sampling of rainfall are presented. Using 14 Parsivel, version 1 (Parsivel-1), disdrometers placed within 6 m2, it was found that the combined area of at least seven disdrometers is required for the estimates to start converging to a stable value. The results can be used to quantify the degree of over-/underestimation of precipitation parameters for a single instrument due to the limited collecting area effect. It has been found that a single disdrometer may underestimate instantaneous rain rate by 70%.

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Claire Scannell, Ben B. B. Booth, Nick J. Dunstone, David P. Rowell, Dan J. Bernie, Matthew Kasoar, Apostolos Voulgarakis, Laura J. Wilcox, Juan C. Acosta Navarro, Øyvind Seland, and David J. Paynter

Abstract

Past changes in global industrial aerosol emissions have played a significant role in historical shifts in African rainfall, and yet assessment of the impact on African rainfall of near-term (10–40 yr) potential aerosol emission pathways remains largely unexplored. While existing literature links future aerosol declines to a northward shift of Sahel rainfall, existing climate projections rely on RCP scenarios that do not explore the range of air quality drivers. Here we present projections from two emission scenarios that better envelop the range of potential aerosol emissions. More aggressive emission cuts result in northward shifts of the tropical rainbands whose signal can emerge from expected internal variability on short, 10–20-yr time horizons. We also show for the first time that this northward shift also impacts East Africa, with evidence of delays to both onset and withdrawal of the short rains. However, comparisons of rainfall impacts across models suggest that only certain aspects of both the West and East African model responses may be robust, given model uncertainties. This work motivates the need for wider exploration of air quality scenarios in the climate science community to assess the robustness of these projected changes and to provide evidence to underpin climate adaptation in Africa. In particular, revised estimates of emission impacts of legislated measures every 5–10 years would have a value in providing near-term climate adaptation information for African stakeholders.

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Pedro A. Jiménez, J. Fidel González-Rouco, Elena García-Bustamante, Jorge Navarro, Juan P. Montávez, Jordi Vilà-Guerau de Arellano, Jimy Dudhia, and Antonio Muñoz-Roldan

Abstract

This study analyzes the daily-mean surface wind variability over an area characterized by complex topography through comparing observations and a 2-km-spatial-resolution simulation performed with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model for the period 1992–2005. The evaluation focuses on the performance of the simulation to reproduce the wind variability within subregions identified from observations over the 1999–2002 period in a previous study. By comparing with wind observations, the model results show the ability of the WRF dynamical downscaling over a region of complex terrain. The higher spatiotemporal resolution of the WRF simulation is used to evaluate the extent to which the length of the observational period and the limited spatial coverage of observations condition one’s understanding of the wind variability over the area. The subregions identified with the simulation during the 1992–2005 period are similar to those identified with observations (1999–2002). In addition, the reduced number of stations reasonably represents the spatial wind variability over the area. However, the analysis of the full spatial dimension simulated by the model suggests that observational coverage could be improved in some subregions. The approach adopted here can have a direct application to the design of observational networks.

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Juan C. Acosta Navarro, Pablo Ortega, Javier García-Serrano, Virginie Guemas, Etienne Tourigny, Rubén Cruz-García, François Massonnet, and Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes
Open access
Pedro A. Jiménez, Jordi Vilà-Guerau de Arellano, J. Fidel González-Rouco, Jorge Navarro, Juan P. Montávez, Elena García-Bustamante, and Jimy Dudhia

Abstract

Variations in the diurnal wind pattern associated with heat waves and drought conditions are investigated climatologically at a regional level (northeast of the Iberian Peninsula). The study, based on high-density observational evidence and fine spatial-scale mesoscale modeling for the 1992–2004 period, shows that wind speed can decrease up to 22% under situations characterized by extremely high temperatures and severe drought, such as the European summer of 2003. By examining the role of the different atmospheric scales of motion that determine the wind diurnal variability, it is found that the 2003 synoptic conditions are the main driver for changes in the wind speed field. In turn, these changes are modulated by mesoscale circulations influenced by the soil moisture availability. The results have implications for broad regional modeling studies of current climate and climate change simulations in as much as the study demonstrates that a correct representation of local soil moisture conditions impacts atmospheric circulation and therefore the regional climate state.

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T. J. Garrett, B. C. Navarro, C. H. Twohy, E. J. Jensen, D. G. Baumgardner, P. T. Bui, H. Gerber, R. L. Herman, A. J. Heymsfield, P. Lawson, P. Minnis, L. Nguyen, M. Poellot, S. K. Pope, F. P. J. Valero, and E. M. Weinstock

Abstract

This paper presents a detailed study of a single thunderstorm anvil cirrus cloud measured on 21 July 2002 near southern Florida during the Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers–Florida Area Cirrus Experiment (CRYSTAL-FACE). NASA WB-57F and University of North Dakota Citation aircraft tracked the microphysical and radiative development of the anvil for 3 h. Measurements showed that the cloud mass that was advected downwind from the thunderstorm was separated vertically into two layers: a cirrus anvil with cloud-top temperatures of −45°C lay below a second, thin tropopause cirrus (TTC) layer with the same horizontal dimensions as the anvil and temperatures near −70°C. In both cloud layers, ice crystals smaller than 50 μm across dominated the size distributions and cloud radiative properties. In the anvil, ice crystals larger than 50 μm aggregated and precipitated while small ice crystals increasingly dominated the size distributions; as a consequence, measured ice water contents and ice crystal effective radii decreased with time. Meanwhile, the anvil thinned vertically and maintained a stratification similar to its environment. Because effective radii were small, radiative heating and cooling were concentrated in layers approximately 100 m thick at the anvil top and base. A simple analysis suggests that the anvil cirrus spread laterally because mixing in these radiatively driven layers created horizontal pressure gradients between the cloud and its stratified environment. The TTC layer also spread but, unlike the anvil, did not dissipate—perhaps because the anvil shielded the TTC from terrestrial infrared heating. Calculations of top-of-troposphere radiative forcing above the anvil and TTC showed strong cooling that tapered as the anvil evolved.

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Svetla M. Hristova-Veleva, P. Peggy Li, Brian Knosp, Quoc Vu, F. Joseph Turk, William L. Poulsen, Ziad Haddad, Bjorn Lambrigtsen, Bryan W. Stiles, Tsae-Pyng Shen, Noppasin Niamsuwan, Simone Tanelli, Ousmane Sy, Eun-Kyoung Seo, Hui Su, Deborah G. Vane, Yi Chao, Philip S. Callahan, R. Scott Dunbar, Michael Montgomery, Mark Boothe, Vijay Tallapragada, Samuel Trahan, Anthony J. Wimmers, Robert Holz, Jeffrey S. Reid, Frank Marks, Tomislava Vukicevic, Saiprasanth Bhalachandran, Hua Leighton, Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan, Andres Navarro, and Francisco J. Tapiador

Abstract

Tropical cyclones (TCs) are among the most destructive natural phenomena with huge societal and economic impact. They form and evolve as the result of complex multiscale processes and nonlinear interactions. Even today the understanding and modeling of these processes is still lacking. A major goal of NASA is to bring the wealth of satellite and airborne observations to bear on addressing the unresolved scientific questions and improving our forecast models. Despite their significant amount, these observations are still underutilized in hurricane research and operations due to the complexity associated with finding and bringing together semicoincident and semicontemporaneous multiparameter data that are needed to describe the multiscale TC processes. Such data are traditionally archived in different formats, with different spatiotemporal resolution, across multiple databases, and hosted by various agencies. To address this shortcoming, NASA supported the development of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Tropical Cyclone Information System (TCIS)—a data analytic framework that integrates model forecasts with multiparameter satellite and airborne observations, providing interactive visualization and online analysis tools. TCIS supports interrogation of a large number of atmospheric and ocean variables, allowing for quick investigation of the structure of the tropical storms and their environments. This paper provides an overview of the TCIS’s components and features. It also summarizes recent pilot studies, providing examples of how the TCIS has inspired new research, helping to increase our understanding of TCs. The goal is to encourage more users to take full advantage of the novel capabilities. TCIS allows atmospheric scientists to focus on new ideas and concepts rather than painstakingly gathering data scattered over several agencies.

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